New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS): The fifth edition of National Youth Leadership Summit 2023 organised by Special Olympics Bharat came to a close.
The three-day event, focused on Diversity & Inclusion and took place at Amity University, Noida, saw participation from 21 states of India including a dedicated day for the schools and colleges from across Delhi-NCR.
On Day 1 of the Summit, seventeen schools and colleges from the Delhi NCT combined to kick off the Summit. Himanshu Gupta, Director - Directorate of Education & Sports, Govt of Delhi NCT, Address on Inclusion in schools as one of the key highlights of the day. The second and the third day of the Summit witnessed participation from different states of India combining a promising group of youth leaders and adult mentors. The performance summary of the states presented at the beginning of the day, provided the context while the panel discussion saw a powerful convergence of distinguished guests.
The key highlight on Day 2 was the panel Discussion on topic 'Leveraging education spaces building communities of acceptance and inclusion with A Srija, Economic Advisor, Department of School Education & Literacy, Govt of India, Dr Mallika Nadda, President, Special Olympics Bharat, Pam Rolink, Manager, Youth Initiatives, Asia Pacific Region, Special Olympics SOAP, Prof (Dr) Jayanti Pujari, Dean, Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences, Professor & Director, Amity Institute of Rehabilitation Sciences, and Mala Arora, Consultant, Inclusion as the panellists. The discussion was moderated by the Unified Pair, Rithik Hukku (Youth leader with IDD) and Smruti Sikta Misra (Youth leader without IDD).
An important session with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) featuring Ashley Wilkinson, Senior Programme Officer – Youth and Citizen Engagement at WWF also took place on the last day of the Summit called the ‘Tide Turner Platic Challenge. The sessions showcased the emerging partnerships through the youth, and also demonstrating the ability of the youth with intellectual disabilities of being part of every responsible endeavour.
Dr Kalpana Sharma addressed the gathering on the role of Coaches in promoting inclusion of Persons with IDD - Unified sports as a catalyst for Inclusion, while Ms Damini Gosh, Senior Resident Fellow and Team Lead (Disability- Inclusion and Access) Vidhi Centre of legal policy spoke on the role of the youth in shaping policies. A vibrant flash mob performance featuring Special Olympics Bharat athlete delighted the crowd before lunch after which Shrey Kadian & Rithik Hukku , members of SOI and SOAP Athlete Input Councils, gave insights on youth engagements discussions at the recently held Asia Pacific Leadership Conference in Jakarta.
Himanshu Gupta, Director- Directorate of Education & Sports, Govt of Delhi and NCT said, "Special Olympics Bharat is doing wonderful work for specially-abled children through the concept of unified sports, and promoting diversity and inclusion via sports. Their efforts are helping children find a focus and purpose in life as they are also becoming independent and self-sufficient. We have now also moved on to the idea of integrated schools where all young ones can sit and learn together. The government and organisations such as Special Olympics Bharat have been working towards such initiatives especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds."
A Srija, Economic Advisor Dept of School Education and Literacy, Govt of India, said, "I am thankful to be a part of the fifth edition of The National Youth Leadership Summit organised by Special Olympics Bharat. As per our law, all children in educational institutions should be given a chance to get admissions with any discrimination or biases. Under various government schemes, there are many interventions that have come up to help the specially-abled children be a part of all activities like any other child would. State schools can come up with proposals towards inclusive education and provision of funds. And the government of India also requests the states to come forward and make use of these provisions, thereby move towards inclusion through games and sports."
Dr Mallika Nadda, president Special Olympics Bharat, said, "Special Olympics Bharat has been working to promote inclusion and diversity through sports. Delhi’s model of inclusion through sports has been chosen by the government as the pilot project and I would really like to think the government for making this decision and putting their faith in the program which would go on to inspire other states and the country as a whole and brighten the future of our special athletes. We hope that through this summit we are able to meet our aims of inclusion through sports and eventually lead to the holistic development and integration of specially abled children in the society without any discrimination, providing them with an environment that is happy, accepting and inclusive."